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Getting to grips with kitchen layout

Getting to grips with kitchen layout

If you’ve ever watched TV chefs in action in their perfectly laid out and uber gorgeous kitchens, you’ll understand the importance of good layout when you’re designing a kitchen. Having everything to hand and being able to move around the space with ease saves a lot of time and makes the whole food preparation and meal production process a lot less stressful.


So, where do you start when you are designing a kitchen?

Most kitchen suppliers offer their own design service but if you are doing this for the first time there is a trick to getting it right, known in the trade as the ‘working triangle’.


This is a 70-year-old interior design rule that most kitchen designers still use today. In practice it means that in any kitchen, the cooker, sink, and fridge-freezer should form a triangle, as small a triangle as possible and that’s all there is to it. The National Kitchen and Bath Association describes it as “an imaginary straight line drawn from the centre of the sink, to the centre of the cooktop, to the centre of the refrigerator and finally back to the sink.”


The triangle should be less than seven metres but more than 3.6 metres to give you enough room to prepare food between appliances, and ideally there should be at least 30cm work space on either side of a hob/cooker to leave room for pots and pans to be set down.


Putting the Kitchen Work Triangle into practice

When you start redesigning your kitchen, the chances are that it’s not all going to be about cooking; you’ll also need to plan for entertaining, eating and even somewhere for the kids to do their homework, and so if you have a bigger kitchen, you can break the space up with a sitting/dining area which reduces the size of the triangle.


So, how do you apply the idea to an average kitchen? Well, when you’re planning or rearranging a kitchen area, think about the sink first as that’s usually fixed and by a window (we all need a distraction when we’re doing the dishes!) In most homes, you’ll find that the plumbing is under the window to make installation easier too.


  • By keeping your main cooking areas confined to one part of the kitchen, you'll be able to make better use of the other spaces.
  • Splitting your kitchen into ‘zones’ can also help with planning – so if you have a dishwasher, install it as close to the sink as possible, microwaves by the cooker, fridges and freezers close to each other.
  • Try and keep the work triangle away from where the main traffic flow is in the kitchen to avoid bottlenecks.
  • Leave room for preparation near the sink and cooker. Hang or store your most-used utensils, pots and cooking ingredients near the cooker too.  

What if the rule doesn’t work for your kitchen? Well, it was thought up in the 1940s, and the way we use our kitchens has changed a lot since the middle of last century. You can adapt the rule to suit your needs and you certainly don’t have to set it in stone. 


The main idea is that all major workstations should be close to the person who is cooking, without being so close that the kitchen feels cramped, so feel free to adapt the principles of the triangle to make it work for you.